Waleed Aly has revealed Today show host Lisa Wilkinson apologised to him for cracking a joke skin colour after his Gold Logie nomination.
Speaking to Kiis FM’s Matt Tilley and Meshel Laurie on Wednesday, Aly said he was happy to treat the incident – also involving Wilkinson’s co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Ben Fordham – as an unfortunate gaffe.
After the Gold Logie nominations were announced last month, the hosts landed themselves in hot water for some ill-advised banter about the racial diversity of the nominees.
“Where is Lisa Wilkinson’s Gold Logie?” Fordham asked.
“I think it’s very clear, Lisa’s too white,” Stefanovic joked.
“I got a spray tan and everything, still didn’t make it,” Wilkinson added.
During his radio interview, Aly was reluctant to speak about the conversation.
“I’m not going to bite,” The Project host told Tilley and Laurie.
“I read it as basically saying, ‘Oh they’re making a token gesture towards people like Waleed and Lee Lin [Chin] to embrace the multicultural nature of TV these days’,” Tilley said.
“That’s clearly the subtext,” Aly responded.
“But I think what happened was, it was one of those banter-y things that just went wrong and Karl threw in a comment that other people were not expecting.”
Aly said Wilkinson reached out to him in the days after the furore over their “racist” remarks to apologise.
“She texted me and then we spoke a few days later,” Aly said.
“So you cleared the air with Lisa?” Laurie asked.
“I really like Lisa and she’s also been incredibly effusive about me in the past … We’ve only met once before,” Aly said.
“I think she [Wilkinson] felt that it just didn’t represent who she was.”
“So you’re happy to just put it up there as a gaffe?” Tilley asked.
“Yeah I think so,” replied Aly.
“Especially when I spoke to her about what was actually going on behind the scenes, because as I recall … wasn’t she in a separate studio?
“I don’t think she was listening. I reckon she was doing some other thing, heard them mention her name and just went, ‘Oh I’d better say something’.”
The Today hosts have publicly endorsed Aly’s The Project to take home a Logie.
“We’re not actually backing ourselves; we’ve got a tenner on The Project,” Wilkinson told Fairfax Media.
“Waleed has made a significant contribution to Australian television this year,” Stefanovic said.
“We would love to see him win.”